RFID in Urban Planning

RFID in Urban Planning

Les Pang (University of Maryland University College, USA), Vanessa Morgan-Morris (Constellation Energy and Community College of Baltimore County, USA) and Angela Howell (Department of Defense, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-929-3.ch020
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Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a significant emerging technology that enables the automation of numerous applications globally. Professions, businesses and industries have integrated this technology into their procedures and it has resulted in great advances in the accuracy of data, operational efficiencies, logistical enhancements and other process improvements. This chapter discusses the application of RFID technology to support the needs and requirements within the realm of urban planning. First, the historic and technical background behind RFID is reviewed. Illustrative examples of its use are presented. Next, the technology’s potential is explored in terms of a practical tool for urban planners. Consequently, issues and challenges associated with RFID are identified and considerations to be made when applying the technology are offered. Finally, the outlook for RFID technology is examined as an instrument in urban development and the expected exponential growth of the technology is discussed.
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Urban planners face major challenges in the collection of data towards analyzing the constantly changing social, economic and environmental conditions in cities. This data is instrumental in the development of accurate models used to plan urban communities -- many of which are facing critical issues and challenges.

Current methodologies include the use of remote sensing technology in the form of satellite data collection to determine land use trends in urban as well as rural areas. State-of-the-art data collection techniques also include surveys and interviews, traffic monitoring devices and ethnographic observations.

RFID technology offers a new and innovative approach to data collection that will revolutionize urban design and planning. Through the use of these small monitoring devices, data accuracy will be significantly improved thus resulting in planning models with higher precision. These devices can detect trends at the pedestrian and vehicular level as opposed to the remote sensing satellite techniques at the atmospheric level. However, as with all technologies, the use of RFID presents challenges to the urban planner that must be considered and addressed accordingly. Also, the outlook of this technology needs to be examined to see where it will take the urban planning profession in the future.

This chapter starts with the background of RFID in terms of its technical underpinnings and its history and provides illustrative applications. Next, it examines the relevance of RFID to the urban planning profession, namely as a planning tool for data collection. This chapter then identifies the key issues and challenges associated with RFID that are pertinent to its application in the urban design and planning environment. Based on the identified issues and challenges, considerations when implementing RFID technology are explored. Finally, the outlook for RFID technology is examined in terms of its use as an instrument in urban development and projections of the expected growth and expansion of the RFID technology are presented.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID): An auto-identification technology which utilizes radio frequency waves to transfer data between a reader and a tag attached or embedded in movable or stationary objects.

Active tags: Tags that have a battery and radio transmitter. They are used for longer range applications, normally 300 to 750 feet.

EPCglobal Networks: A non-profit organization that is working to standardize electronic product codes and RFID technology.

Readers: A device that reads data from a tag (“interrogates” a tag) as well as writes data to the tag. It communicates with the tag through an antenna that emits radio waves. Readers are also called scanners.

Passive Tag: Tags that do not contain a power source such as a battery.

RFID Software: Programs which help manage business processes. These include device drivers, filters, databases, middleware and user applications such as warehouse and supply chain management systems.

Antennas: Devices used to communicate between the tag and the reader. There are two types of antennas in an RFID system, one is in the tag and the other is connected to the reader. Usually it is referred to the one that is connected to the RFID reader.

Semi-Passive Tags: Tags that generally have batteries but may only be powering the circuit while it is active and then operating at a very low level while waiting for a reader’s signal.

Tags: A microchip with an integrated circuit packaged with an antenna used to identify objects. Radio Frequency is used to transfer data between the tag and a reader.

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